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What is Social Media?

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Social media is a phrase being tossed around a lot these days, but what really is social media? This is a question that is debated by many media professionals and internet users alike.

It can sometimes be difficult to answer the question of what is social media. Many people do not know what social media actually is and what types of websites are classed as social media websites. If MySpace is a social media site, and Wikipedia is a social media site, then just what is social media?

What is Social Media?

The best way to define social media is to break it down. Media is an instrument on communication, like a newspaper or a radio, so social media would be a social instrument of communication.

Essentially, social media website just doesn't give you information, it incorporates the online technology and methods through which people can share content, personal opinions, exchange different perspectives and insights into world issues.

Think of regular media as a one-way street where you can read a newspaper or watch a television report, but you have very limited ability to give your thoughts or comments on the matter.

Social media, on the other hand, is a two-way street that gives you the ability to communicate too, by allowing you interact with the website and with other visitors, while giving you that information. This interaction can be as simple as asking for your comments or letting you vote on an article.

This gives the user a different experience which may spark a lot of interesting debates and can be also be seen as educational at the same time. With that said, any website that invites you to interact with the site and with other visitors falls into the definition of social media.

Here are some examples of social media websites:

Social Bookmarking. (Delicious, Blinklist, Cloudytags) Interact by tagging websites and searching through websites bookmarked by other people.

Social News. (Digg, Designbump, Design Float) Interact by voting for articles and commenting on them.

Social Networking. (Facebook, Google+, Twitter) Interact by adding friends, commenting on profiles, joining groups and having discussions.

Social Photo and Video Sharing. (YouTube, Flickr) Interact by sharing photos or videos and commenting on user submissions.

Wikis. (Wikipedia, Wikia) Interact by adding articles and editing existing articles.

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